Grappling with Hashimoto's
Hashimoto’s and fatigue are a formidable tag team - I know, I spent eight years wrestling them and for a while they had me tapping out but it turns out they have met their match!
"An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease [that’s approximately 20% of the population]. Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime." ~ www.thyroid.org
and I am sure that the figures would be very similar in Australia too.
The thyroid is a gland, located in the front lower part of your neck, that releases hormones that travel through your bloodstream and affect nearly every part of your body - your heart, brain, endocrine and reproductive systems, muscles and skin. It also controls how your body's cells use energy from the food you consume ie. your metabolism which regulates your heart rate, body temperature and your body's ability to burn calories. I am sure that you will agree that it is a pretty important little gland that we do not give a great deal of thought to.
Seven years ago, I was completely unaware that I had any kind of issue with my thyroid - (I was one of the staggering 60% of women who do not know they have an issue). I was a mum of a two year old, who was not particularly fond of sleep and so I assumed that this was why I was so tired all the time. I thought this was perfectly 'normal' to be tired all the time and to feel like I was on auto pilot or in survival mode. Certainly, if you look at any TV sitcom or listen to the comments from mums, I should kiss goodbye sleep. 'Zombie Mum' is a thing and I felt like the walking dead. I was upright and moving, performing all necessary duties but I was far from alive. Following two miscarriages, I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis - an autoimmune disorder that is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Essentially, the immune system for some unknown reason decides that the thyroid gland is 'foreign' and attacks it, leading to a thyroid that does not produce enough thyroid hormone, which slows down the body's processes - it makes less energy and the metabolism slows right down. Great. Just what I needed! In addition, I was angry. I was angry with my body. I felt like it had let me down when I needed it most. It had robbed me of the gift of another child. I remained angry and resentful for a while, before I had an epiphany. I had let my body down, not the other way around. I had failed to look after myself. My desire to look after others and intention to look after myself if I had time was not selfless, it was selfish. I was not the best version of myself I could be - not as a mum, not as a wife, not as an employee, not as a person. Like many busy mums, I did not eat well, frequently skipping meals. I was essentially starving my body of nutrients and expecting it to function efficiently. It can only sustain this for a short period of time before damage is done. It would be like hiring a mechanic to fix your car, but not giving them tools to do so. It just doesn’t work!
Following my diagnosis, the doctor told me that I would have to take synthetic thyroid hormones for the rest of my life and that I would just have to "live with" the constant fatigue, hair loss, brain fog, weight gain and non-existent libido. He wasn't exactly selling this new way of life to me, nor was I buying it. It didn't make sense! Why? Well, the synthetic hormones I was taking were just trying to mask the symptoms and they were not doing a very good job at it either. Surely, there had to be something I could do to heal my thyroid and my poor adrenal glands that were now suffering from fatigue. Surely, there was a way for me to take control of my health and improve my well being. I did my research and over time, found what worked for me. I made significant changes to my diet. When nourished and given what it needs to function efficiently, the body has an innate ability to heal itself. Herein lies the key - you must nourish your body and give it what it needs to heal.
In my opinion, I found the best nutritional supplements (an insurance policy of sorts), and I flood my cells with high quality phytonutrients every single day. I invested in myself and practice the self care that I spoke about so often with others.
It is not surprising that my body started to respond. I began to notice improvements in my digestive system, hair, skin, nails and the excess weight started to shift. My libido has made a welcome return (happy hubby) and anxiety is no longer my constant companion. I have now found my way through the debilitating fatigue that characterised my life; that made me fall asleep within seconds of sitting still. I now have energy to be more present and engaged. I am so much happier and feel more ‘alive’ than I have in eight years.
I know it may be difficult to grasp if you are still wrestling with thyroid disorders, but I now see my diagnosis as a blessing. I am grateful for the experience because it has changed my perspective and my life. I have made peace with my body. We are no longer at war. I do not resent or hate my body as I did for so long. I love my body! Anyone who knows me and my history of eating disorders (another article, perhaps) will understand how incredible that statement is - I LOVE MY BODY! How could I not? It is miraculous!
I do not 'suffer' from Hashimoto’s - it is not something I fight or battle. It is a welcome companion; a loving friend who reminds me to love myself more deeply every day and to nourish my body, mind and soul. It has inspired me to reach out and help as many people as I can who are experiencing similar issues to reclaim their health and well being. There is hope! A diagnosis is not the end of it. You are not a victim of Hashimoto’s, or any other health issue for that matter. You, and only you have the power to change your health and your life.